Epic Games Store has yet to turn a profit. This was revealed in day one of the long-awaited Epic v. Google trial, when Epic boss Steve Allison took the stand. While this is something of a minor detail in the larger scheme of The Verge’s reporting of the Epic v. Google trial, it speaks volumes about how Epic is approaching the PC gaming space.
For the uninitiated, the Epic v. Google trial has been building since Epic filed a lawsuit against Google in 2020 over their revenue share model for in-app purchases. Epic Games and Tim Sweeney in general maintain an outspoken stance against high revenue share, to the point of referring to Steam’s model as “Game Developer IRS“.
While Epic hasn’t taken legal action against Steam in the PC space, Google actually isn’t their only lawsuit over revenue share in the mobile gaming space. Epic also sued Apple and lost back in 2021, though they’re still appealing that ruling as recently as September 2023.
For a company willing to take its competitors to court over perceived unfairness, this comment from Epic Games is fairly revealing of deeper problems with their business model. Epic claims to be competing against Steam for the sake of gamers and developers, but their model of paying for exclusivity has largely only drawn them ire within the PC gaming space. Epic’s licensing deals and free games don’t matter if they can’t actually provide a service as good as or better than Steam.
While the final results of Epic’s ongoing legal battles against digital platform holders remain to be seen, the company itself seems to be a poor example of its own argument. While they did manage to get Steam to budge on the 30 percent revenue share for games that sell more than $10 million, those titles still have a 25 percent revenue share that goes to Steam in exchange for hosting. Steam of course remains massively profitable.
Epic’s revenue share is much more generous in comparison, only requiring 12 percent from developers (and even cutting their Unreal Engine fee for EGS sales). As sweet as that sounds, even the most successful EGS timed exclusivity deals reveal just how much faster games sell on Steam. Perhaps Epic should spend more time improving its platform instead of throwing stones in a glass house?